By Doug Geyer


Eight islands in Biscayne Bay embraced by over six million square feet of pink polypropylene. A luminescent cloud inside London’s Covent Garden created with 100,000 balloons. Ancient geoglyphs drawn in the Nazca Desert in Southern Peru.

Some art is perhaps appreciated best from a distant shore, a plane, a satellite even. So massive and grand that you must pull back, way back, to take it all in.

Then there is art so small in scale that it calls for a certain degree of intimacy. Standing in its presence you hear whispers of “closer”, “lean in some”.

On February 24, 2017, the Art Academy will once again host the Minumental Exhibition and Sale where works no bigger than two inches in any direction will be on display. Once again providing hundreds of opportunities to see how small is beautiful. How small can be bold in a big way.

This longstanding tradition and perennial favorite was spawned from the mind of Professor Emeritus Gary Gaffney, who’s been a member of the AAC family since 1978. After he received his MFA from the University of Cincinnati, he was hired when the AAC  was evolving beyond certification into building a BFA program. Over the course of his 33 years, Gary wound up teaching a wide variety of classes with topics ranging from mythology and love to geometry and science. After retiring, he accepted a part-time position teaching literature which allows him to be around the young people in whom he’s invested so much of his life inspiring and being inspired by.

Minumental started 30 years ago and was named by Jane Stanton who was Academic Dean at the time. The first show was housed in a very small gallery in Eden Park and had 35 entries. Through the years it’s grown to have between 400 to 500. The 10th anniversary show had over 1000. In that time, over $10,000 in artwork in prize money has been awarded and more than $10,000 has been sold.

Though Gary has now passed the torch to others with regard to the planning and presenting, he remembers fondly how it all got started and what keeps it going.

“It grew out of a classroom assignment that the students found to be fun. I had them working very big and very small. And the very small turned out to be very concentrated and intimate. And I think that’s what draws a lot of people to the Minumental. To see how much an artist can cram into two square inches. And there’s a range of media that’s just amazing. From painting and drawing, to metalwork, wood, clay modeling, digital stuff, knitting, needlepoint. The other thing is that when you go to a show you normally expect to see a coherent body of work. Or something on the same theme. With Minumental, you’re going to have hundreds of pieces and they’re going to look as different as possible. You’re going to have a lot of choices and a lot of fun making those choices.”

The size and scope of the Minumental pieces make it very appealing to not only the busy students/alumni/faculty who create them but also those who come to the show and are able to buy them for $25, $35, $50. Or a dollar. Fifty cents. Many people come back year after year and have built a collection. Gary himself has purchased over 150 pieces.

In addition to the show affording lots of artists the opportunity to showcase their work and loads of people a chance to afford it, this year’s event is also important as it’s a fundraiser for the AAC’s Alumni Association Student Scholarship fund. Investing in art that inspires you this year will empower and encourage the artists who created it as well as the artists yet to be created.

And though there won’t be any helicopters hovering over the OTR or satellites snapping shots from the stratosphere, the 30th Annual Minumental will certainly have a big impact well beyond the small wonders it celebrates.


The 30th Annual Minumental Exhibition & Sale will be held in the Art Academy of Cincinnati galleries on Final Friday, February 24, 2017.  A Live Auction will take place during the evening for select pieces of artwork from distinguished alumni and faculty.

Final Friday, February 24, 2017 5 – 8 p.m.

Art Academy of Cincinnati
1212 Jackson Street in OTR
Cincinnati, OH 45202

A Public Preview of the artwork prior to Friday evening’s Exhibition Reception & Sale, will be on Wednesday, February 22 and Thursday, February 23 from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.